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“Beautiful” is one of the adjectives that perfectly match Italy, but it is also one of the words that is often used incorrectly. Generally speaking, when talking about beautiful places, one must keep an open mind: there is no such thing as ultimate true beauty, because 1) you cannot compare the many facets of Italy's beauty and 2) it is not the beauty of a place that makes it amazing, but its power to leave you breathless; in other words the emotions it can cause in you.
Anyone who knows even just a little bit about Italy, usually knows at the least the Colosseum in Rome, the Uffizi in Florence, the canals and bridges of Venice, and the Duomo of Milan. These are the main sights highlighted by travel guides, but they should just be a starting point when discovering Italy.
Italy has a lot of secret corners, often less famous or more difficult to reach, simply because they are off the beaten tracks. However, they are worth visiting and not just because they are so beautiful, but because they are places with that high emotional content, able to really move something within you and make you exclaim “Wow!”.
Little Venice - Bologna
Walking down the numerous typical porticoes in Bologna gives you the impression that they are all similar or even identical to each other. Only one of them is different, it “holds a city within a city”: Via Piella's portico possesses a little wooden window in its wall. Take a look through it and enjoy the surprising view of… Little Venice!
Florence in a suitcase
Have you ever fallen in love with a city and wished you could bring a piece of it back home with you? In Florence, this is possible. Obviously, metaphorically speaking! Go to the Rose Garden on the San Miniato hill, and at the end of it you will be able to admire Florence through a frame shaped like a suitcase. The bronze sculpture by Folon is even called “Partir”.
The Lake with the bell tower
Being a famous destination for winter and ski holidays, the Val Venosta valley hosts one of the weirdest and most emotional spots of Italy that should be seen at least once in life. After having been flooded in the 1950s, all there is left of the old town of Curon Venosta is what has become the historic symbol of Val Venosta: the bell tower in the lake.
Cala Goloritzè is not one of the several beaches along Sardinian's 1840 km long coastline. A walking track of about 1 hour and 30 minutes will separate you from this chromatic spectacle of a wild and unspoiled cove - you will have to earn the experience of this emotion!
The Sassi - Matera
The Sassi are a perfect example of ancient settlements: the cave-like city, consists of stone houses carved out of rock caves and cliffs. Even if they had been evacuated by law in 1952 and are recognized as a protected model of way of life by the UNESCO, you can not only visit them, but also spend an emotional night in a haunted Sassi.
Between the regions of Abruzzo and Puglia, there is a coastline segment known as the “Trabucchi Coast”, where picturesque wooden constructions, the “trabucchi” jut out into the sea. Nowadays, these ancient fishing machines are floating restaurants, offering the chance to have a unique, highly emotion-based dinner during sunset.
St. Peter's Basilica through a keyhole
When you are in Rome there always seem to be a lot of sites you have to visit, but on the Aventine Hill in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, there is a wooden gate you absolutely must not miss out on! No need to cross the doorstep, just look through the keyhole and enjoy: a garden path will become the frame of the distant Dome of the St. Peter's Basilica!
Italy is where food is divine and traditions have not changed.
Italy is where you can “walk on history” and the cultural heritage is kept in churches, castles and mansions.
Italy is a land where lifestyle varies from region to region, moving from the “slow” philosophy of the Italian countryside to the glamorous nightlife of its fashion capitals.
Italy can offer much more than you expect.
So when you are planning to visit Italy, please do not ask locals for the most beautiful places to visit, but ask for the most emotional ones instead.
Silvia Pe is an Italian travel enthusiast and compulsive reader. She works in the tourism field and runs the blog CharmingItaly.com